click on thumbnail pictures to enlarge
After you have worked out the size and shape of
your aviary there are several methods of
construction you may wish to consider.
us assume, for arguments sake that you are going
to build your aviary using the most common method,
i.e. steel and weldmesh.
first question you must ask yourself is - is
this aviary a fixture or am I going to want to
move it sometime in the future?
You may decide to move house in ten years time and
if you make your aviary as a fixture you’ll have
to start again (which is not always a bad thing),
but if you want to take your aviary with you then
you could use the method I have adopted and make
it in panel form.
aviaries are generally constructed as bolt
together panels using 20mm(3/4”)
galvanised square steel tube, Australian
manufactured Weldmesh and Lo-rib zincalume (or
Colourbond) solid sections. The
wire is attached to the galvanised square steel
tube (or frame) with aluminium rivets and then
covered with a galvanised steel strip attached
with Tek screws. On the wire
panels there will be a kick panel at ground level
unless otherwise specified.
Rough sketch of aviary
However I have also built aviaries as ‘fixtures’,
which employs a somewhat different method of
construction even though the basics are very
Panels (or Frames)
If you are making a panel type aviary the very
first thing you must do is to draw yourself a plan
or sketch of the finished product.
would then draw each side, roof (and floor if
there is one) as separate items and work out from
each of these sketches what lengths of steel you
are going to need. (See fig 2.)
Sketch of each of the panels
Having done this you can then start to cut all
your steel to the correct length not forgetting to
drill the holes where you are going to bolt each
panel together. It’s much easier
to do that at this stage rather than after you
have assembled each panel.
your lengths of steel together making sure your
corners are square. This is
critical otherwise the finished product will not
fit together and tempers will become frayed at the
time of assembly. The easiest
way to square each panel is to tack-weld the
outside pieces first to make a rectangle (or
square) then measure diagonally corner to corner,
clamp and then finish weld.
Using this method you don’t need a T-square.
You can then weld in all your internal pieces.
After you have finished all the welding I find it
is a good idea to grind the welds flat and then
treat each weld with some kind of cold galv. or
killrust otherwise the joint will rust.
The reason for grinding the welds flat is that it
makes life a lot easier later on, particularly
when you come to fixing the wire and zincalume in
place – also the finished article looks better.
up the whole aviary, panel by panel and then
assemble it before you start to attach wire etc.
just to make sure it goes together properly.
The photograph at figure 3 shows an aviary
complex (of six with centre covered area)
assembled prior to the attaching of wire,
zincalume etc. You will be able
to make minor adjustments or correct mistakes at
this stage, which will be much more difficult, if
not impossible, later on.
Partly assembled gable roof aviary
The aviary at fig.4. is typical of the panel
method; I have even employed this method with the
gable roof as the next photograph will show (see
fig. 5.). The aviary
consists of two wall panels each side,
one wall panel each end and the gable roof, which
consists of another seven panels.
All of these simply bolt together.
Figure 5 shows the roof sections of the gable roof
aviary before the
wire and zincalume sheet has been attached. It consists of
four side panels and three triangles.
The third triangle
used at the centre
no wire or other materials attached to it as it
was used purely for support.
Figure 6. Round top aviary
you are considering a round-topped aviary, (see
fig. 6), this can be done with the wire alone
(without any frame) but you must use a heavy
gauge wire or the finished product will not support
its own weight. However, if you prefer, and
have the correct equipment, you can bend your
steel to suit the arc you need. This, however,
is not as easy as it might sound.
example – don’t try bending 20mm square tube
unless you have proper bending equipment – it will
twist. Rectangular section is much more
forgiving. Round is easy to bend but tricky
when it come to fixing solid materials (e.g.
zincalume sheet) to it, and can often be the cause
of a lot of profanities.
Wire and Zincalume Sheet
attach the wire to the frame, and let’s assume for
arguments sake that we are using weldmesh as it
would be the most popular product, I generally
start in one corner. Then drill and rivet
either side of that corner and use the same
procedure at the opposite parallel corner; then
repeat the process in the other two corners.
Don’t try to stretch weldmesh – it doesn’t like it
and you’ll end up with an untidy finish. If you
use the method described above you should find
that it will pull tight and will lay down nice and
flat and then you can rivet along each side.
you have the wire in place the next step is to
attach the steel tapes along the edges to cover
the raw ends of the weldmesh. You will have
previously cut your tapes to the required length,
which would be 20 or 30mm (¾ - 1”) longer than
each of the edges you are covering. I found the
easiest way to fix the tapes in place is to attach
one corner first, by Tek-screwing two strips
together. Having done this you will then need
a pair of grips of some sort to pull one of these
strips tight to the next corner and fix it in
place with another strip of galvanised tape for
the next edge. You can then repeat the process
along the adjacent side. (Very difficult to put
into writing but I know what I’m talking
about!). Repeat this process along all exposed
wire edges but remember that where the zincalume
sheet overlaps a wire section, you will not be
able to use Tekscrews, as they will not allow the
zincalume to lay flat. At these points you must
use rivets. The zincalume sheet can be quite
simply attached with Tek-screws. I normally use
one Tek screw per valley and at 250mm intervals
along the sides.
You will find that along the side of the zincalume
that has the peak there is only a very small
portion available in which to attach the Tekscrews
(see fig. 7).
Method of fixing where peak of zincalume meets edge of frame.
Note also ground-down weld.
are generally larger than the piece of zincalume
you are trying to attach them to, I have found
that they tend to distort the zincalume along this
edge. I now use rivets for this purpose as
shown in figures 7 and 8. Please also note the
treated weld and the position of the Tekscews
within each valley.
You will also see from these pictures that I use
rivets to join each sheet of zincalume together.
There is a choice of ways to do this.
Sometimes I will join them together before
attaching them to the steel frame but mostly I
would do it once the zincalume is in place and
Zincalume fixing points with samples of some colour choices
main reason for joining zincalume sheets together
before attaching them to a frame
if the frame
to be the same size
as the peaks in the zincalume,
then you have a problem. This can be overcome
by joining the zincalume sheets together, fix
along one edge, then stretch or squeeze to suit
the frame, fix the other edge and then finish in
the normal manner.
Aviary with internal safety door
again, is an aviary of simple design, (see figure
9 and 10.), but which contains a security
door. This arrangement can be either inside or
outside the confines of
the aviary. If it is on the inside you are
going to lose a small amount of
aviary space but it is easier to build as it takes
less time, less material and is, therefore, less
costly. It is simply a matter of constructing
two extra panels designed to fit inside the aviary
at right angles to one another. One would be a
door panel, the other a plain wire panel which
will form a box inside the aviary with adjacent
doors. The outside door should open outwards
and the inside door should open inwards.
Internal safety door shown from inside the aviary
wish to build one on the outside of the aviary you
are going to have to construct three panels
(to form the “airlock”) and also a roof panel as
well. It is purely a matter of choice and which
of these designs better fits into your
have not spoken here much about
aviaries as fixtures or
building in situ, as the principles
very similar, if not identical, to the
building of animal enclosures which I will cover
at length in the
next two chapters.
It’s a little difficult to
put into writing all the intricacies
of manufacturing an aviary
without it becoming very difficult to read, and
perhaps confusing to the reader. So I am going
to suggest that if you are wishing to embark on
such a project, and are in need of assistance, I
will be only too happy to do what I can to get you
out of whatever difficulty in which you find
yourself. Please feel free to contact me by
Back to Part 1